12)    TWENTY-THREE CAMELS 3:16


By 1860, Fraser River gold had been traced to its source in a region known as The Cariboo. On Williams Creek three towns sprung up around the richest claims; Barkerville, Richfield and Camerontown.

 

The greatest challenge was the transporting of goods and provisions from the head of navigation at Yale some 600 miles inland. Many schemes were tried; Pack Mules, Oxen, Pack-horses and such but still transport costs were prohibitive. Then, a Victoria merchant launched a most amazing scheme, Frank Laumeister imported 23 Bactrian Camels for use as beasts of burden on the Cariboo Road.


 

Well it came about on a month of May
That 23 Camels sailed away
23 Camels for Douglas sailed
And the road to the Cariboo

 

Where the Camels came from, no one knew
In the Cariboo in the days of old
From the U.S. Army or old Manchu?
In the Cariboo in the days of gold
From Arizona on a railway crew
In the Cariboo in the days of old
All the way to the Cariboo

 

But 23 Camels that's a twist
Oh you've never seen such a sight as this
Run like a devil when the camels hiss
On the Road to the Cariboo

 

"Ships of the Desert" was the camel's fame
In the Cariboo in the days of old
They could carry a half-of-a-ton was claimed
In the Cariboo in the days of gold
Till their feet went tender and they all took lam
In the Cariboo in the days of old
They were auctioned off away

 

But 23 Camels, that's a sight
Where the donkey brays and the horse takes flight
It's a wonder everybody didn't die of fright
On the road to the Cariboo

 

They kicked and bit at everything that moved
In the Cariboo in the days of old
They smelled so bad that they scared the mules
In the Cariboo in the days of gold
Causin' so much trouble that the teamsters sued
In the Cariboo in the days of old
Their disruptions to curtail

 

But 23 Camels, that's a sight
Where the donkey brays and the horse takes flight
It's a wonder everybody didn't die of fright
On the Road to the Cariboo

 

But 23 Camels that's a twist
Oh you've never seen such a sight as this
Run like a devil when the camels spit
On the Road to the Cariboo

 


Music and lyrics by Bruce Coughlan (SOCAN)

From Tiller’s Folly:  A Ripple In Time CD, 2002

 

Bruce Coughlan: lead vocal, acoustic guitar
Laurence Knight: electric bass, vocals
Mike Sanyshyn: fiddle, mandolin
Chris Stevens: 5-string banjo
Phil Robertson: drums

 

Produced by Laurence Knight
Engineered by John Ellis & Eric Reed
Recorded at Magic Lab Studios, Surrey, BC and Red Stripe Studios, Burnaby, BC
Mixed at The Factory, Vancouver, BC – Sheldon Zaharko, assisting
Mastered by Jamie Sitar, Sound Suite, Vancouver, BC
Re-mastered by Joby Baker, Baker Studios, Victoria, BC.